I’ve been a part of the Church for as long as I have memories. I’ve been a Christian for nearly 30 years. And I’ve been a pastor for 14 years. A common thread through all of my experiences with churches is the importance of emphasis.

When it comes to discipleship, I’ve noticed three types of “disciples.” And what you emphasize when you gather people together has a large role in what type of disciple you’re going to make. Usually, churches emphasize one of three things: information, conformity, or transformation.

The Informed Disciple

The informed disciple is made when Bibles are opened, but lives are not. The informed disciple attends classes but doesn’t make friends. Scripture is memorized and truths are learned, but repentance is not taking place. Christian living is a theory because we don’t know each other well enough to actually apply what we’re learning to our actual lives.

The Conformed Disciple

The conformed disciple is made when lives are opened, but Bibles are not. Conformed disciples go through a tough time and get invited to church. The church assumes their biggest problem is a lack of life skill and that they trust in the person and work of Jesus.

The changing agent for the conformed disciple is peer pressure rather than Biblical knowledge. The conformed disciple makes new friends who have added a lot of value to their life, and they don’t want to lose them. They’ll change what they need to for the sake of keeping friends.

The Transformed Disciple

The transformed disciple is best made when lives and Bibles are opened. The transformed disciple is surrounded by friends who love Jesus and love one another. They are learning God’s word and preaching the gospel to each other. Because they know each other well enough, they are able to lead each other through repentance.

At Valley Life Church, we make disciples and we plant churches. That is our mission statement. That is our goal. We measure success by whether those two things are being accomplished.

We want someone to leave the worship service in the Big Room encouraged and challenged—affirmed and convicted of sin. They should walk away knowing the truth and asking, “So what do I do about it?” The answer to that question is found in community groups all across our city, where their closest friends will open their Bibles, recap the sermon, and connect their conviction to acts of repentance.

What kind of disciples do you wish to make?

Jason Vance

Jason Vance

Jason Vance is the pastor of Valley Life | Surprise, planted in 2014. He was the Director of Missions for Mullins Baptist Association from 2010-2014.